HC Deb 22 November 1939 vol 353 cc1215-6
52. Mr. A. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Supply whether arrangements have now been made for importing pit wood from France and Portugal for the next 12 months; and, if not, whether he can state for what period arrangements have been completed?

Mr. Burgin

Arrangements have been made in France and Portugal which it is hoped will ensure a steady flow of pit wood from those countries.

53. Mr. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Supply the prices per ton for pit wood in France and Portugal?

Mr. Burgin

I am informed that these prices vary from about 14s. to 16s. a ton f.o.b., with additions for small quantities of specially prepared sizes.

Mr. Jenkins

How does the right hon. Gentleman account for the differences of prices of timber in Spain, France and Portugal as compared with the prices in this country for home-grown timber?

Mr. Burgin

I should have thought that it was very simple. In order to provide home-grown pit wood it is necessary to bring the wood in some cases from forests planted a long way away from the mines. There are only certain parts of Britain where forests can grow, and in many of those places the railway haulage to the colliery is as much as 25s. per ton. I am not aware that the price of home-grown timber is at all disproportionate to the cost of felling, cutting, transporting and delivering, and I know the collieries are only too glad to receive it.

61. Mr. John Morgan

asked the Minister of Supply the approximate weekly output of pit-props now being delivered from the State forests to the mines of this country; whether any such supplies are coming from forests in the special areas; and what assurance he can give that there are ample quantities of pit-prop supplies available for the war period from the same sources?

Mr. Burgin

The approximate weekly output of pit-props from the Forestry Commission's State forests in England, Wales and Scotland is 6,000 tons, of which approximately 1,000 tons are produced from the Special Areas or from the districts within 15 miles of the Special Areas. The output from the larger State forests is being increased each week and production can be maintained for a considerable period.

Mr. Morgan

Does not the Minister consider that this is a very satisfactory use of a State service developed since the war, and is he taking steps to see that there is an expansion of these supplies and that plantings are well maintained?

Mr. Burgin

Yes, Sir. It is a fortunate natural history fact that, if you plant a tree, it grows 5 per cent. a year, so that with wars at 20 years' intervals you will get a proper supply of full-grown trees.

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